It’s reasonable to assume that, in this day and age of technological advances and common knowledge about good health, maternal mortality rates should be next to nil. But even in the United States, one of the richest countries in the world, it’s up at 13.3 deaths per 100,000 live births (in 2006), an increase from 1997 when it was 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births (according to Amnensty International’s recent report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA). We fall behind 40 other countries, almost all industrialized nations! So imagine how dire the situation is in developing countries. In this week’s issue of Time Magazine, there’s a horrific photo essay of one woman’s quick journey from pregnancy to death in Sierra Leone, where an overwhelming 1,033 women die for every 100,000 live births — that’s one of the highest death rates in the world. Add it all up, and every day one woman per minute dies while giving birth or soon after. What makes this even more tragic is the fact that these deaths are almost always preventable.
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